Direct Certification in the National School Lunch Program Report to Congress: State Implementation Progress, School Year 2014-2015
This report responds to the requirement of PL 110-246 to assess the effectiveness of state and local efforts to directly certify children for free school meals. Direct certification is a process conducted by the states and by local educational agencies to certify eligible children for free meals without the need for household applications.
The Second Access, Participation, Eligibility, and Certification Study (APEC II): Estimating and Validating Statistical Models for Updating Estimates of Improper Payments in the NSLP and SBP
Statistical models were designed to estimate national improper payments due to certification error on an annual basis using district-level data. This enables FNS to update its estimates of national improper payment rates for the NSLP and SBP in future years without having to conduct full rounds of primary data collection.
Approaches to Measuring Erroneous Payments in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program At The State Level
The second Access, Participation, Eligibility and Certification Study (APEC II) included a follow-on report that provided statistically-derived state-level estimates of school meals erroneous payments. However, while APEC II provided a rough indicator of relative risk for groups of states (e.g., higher than average, about average, lower than average), it was not a state-representative direct measure, and creating actual annual measures of such erroneous payments at the state level using APEC methodology is cost-prohibitive. This report explores alternative approaches to developing measurement-based state-specific estimates that are responsive to year-to-year changes in the actual underlying rate in each state. It also provides cost and burden estimates for the implementation of each of these methods.
This is the 11th in a series of annual reports that examines the administrative accuracy of eligibility determinations and benefit issuance for free or reduced-price meals in the National School Lunch Program.
The study generates national estimates of administrative error in eligibility determinations and benefit issuance for free or reduced-price school meals. For school year (SY) 2012-2013, local education agencies (LEAs) correctly certified 96.4 percent of students who applied for meal benefits. LEAs assigned the correct free, reduced-price, or paid status to a slightly smaller 96.2 percent of students. Roughly three quarters of certification and benefit issuance error resulted in a higher benefit level than was justified based on the data presented on household applications; about one quarter of LEA administrative error resulted in a lower benefit level than justified. Certification and benefit issuance error increased slightly from SY 2011-2012 to SY 2012-2013, but the changes were not statistically significant. Over the nine years of this report series, certification error has ranged between 2.0 and 3.9 percent; benefit issuance error has ranged between 3.0 and 4.6 percent.
The purpose of this study is to describe current methods of direct certification used by State and local agencies and challenges facing States and local education agencies in attaining high matching rates. In addition, the analysis of unmatched records provides a better understanding of the categorically eligible children who are not matched in the direct certification process and identifies potential matching process improvements that might increase the number of matched children. This study includes analysis of data drawn from a National Survey of Direct Certification Practices and case studies of seven States for School Year 2012-2013.